Heartland Institute

How Donald Trump Kingmaker-Billionaires Robert and Rebekah Mercer Have Poured Millions Into Climate Science Denial

Headlines about Mercer family

When it comes to climate science denial, some names come easily and deservingly to mind.

There’s oil giant ExxonMobil — a company that contributed millions of dollars to organizations that told the public there was no risk from burning fossil fuels.

There are the oil billionaire Koch brothers — Charles and David — and their ideological zeal against government regulations that drove them to pour vast amounts into groups spreading doubt on the realities of human-caused global warming.

But a name that has not yet reached those heights of climate science denial infamy — but likely should — is the Mercer family.

The Billionaire Energy Investor Who Vetted Trump's EPA Pick Has Long List of EPA Violations

Natural gas refinery

Asked for his take on President-elect Donald Trump's appointment of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to head the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), multi-billionaire investor and Trump business partner Carl Icahn told Bloomberg that Pruitt is “going to really be a breath of fresh air.” Given Icahn's business ties, that statement is steeped in accidental irony. 

Icahn, owner of the holding company Icahn Enterprises and a major donor to Trump's presidential campaign, was instrumental in choosing Pruitt — a man who as state prosecutor actively opposed most federal environmental regulations and denied the science of climate change — for the nation's top environmental job. As reported by The Wall Street Journal, Trump allowed Icahn, the 26th most wealthy man on the planet, to vet and interview finalists for high-level EPA jobs even though Icahn owns business assets impacted by current EPA regulations.

In addition, a DeSmog investigation shows that Icahn Enterprises owns oil industry assets based in Oklahoma, which are involved in EPA enforcement violations, and does business with TransCanada's Keystone pipeline system. 

With Paris Agreement Now Official, a Look Back at Climate Deniers Who Said It Couldn’t Happen

Graffiti saying 'I don't believe in global warming' on a wall partly covered by appearance of water.

With recent ratifications by the European Union, India, and Canada, the Paris climate agreement is set to take effect November 4, just days before the start of COP22, the United Nations climate conference happening in mid-November in Marrakesh, Morocco. 

The agreement’s swift movement through the ratification process surprised many, from U.S. President Barack Obama to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, who commented recently that “what once seemed impossible is now inevitable.” 

However, perhaps those most shocked — or at least dismayed — may be the climate deniers who have taken so many opportunities to cast doubt on the U.N. climate talks, the validity of Pres. Obama’s ratification of it, and, of course, climate science itself. Here’s a look back at a few of those efforts.

After Brexit, Climate Science Denialists Form New Group to Call for a Clexit

Hugh Morgan

In the wake of the political tsunami caused by the UK’s decision to leave the EU, a group of climate science denialists has formed to jump enthusiastically onto the Brexit bandwagon.

Backed by a blitzkrieg of conspiracy theories and pseudo-science, a rapidly convened new group called Clexit has been formed.

The group claims to have “60 well-informed science, business and economic leaders from 16 countries” signing on to a founding statement that is chock-full of long-debunked climate change myths, together with attacks on renewable energy and the United Nations.

In a not unambitious founding statement, Clexit says: “The world must abandon this suicidal Global Warming crusade. Man does not and cannot control the climate.”

Heartland Institute Tries To Reshape Its 'Unabomber Billboard' Image With Hyper Patriotism

It was renowned English writer Samuel Johnson who once said “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.” Unfortunately, the original context of his quote has been lost to history, but he did clarify during his life that he was not referring to patriotism in general, just false patriotism. Even though we don’t have the original context, it is easy to apply this quote to the latest activities of The Heartland Institute.

Recently, Heartland unleashed a new project called #OurAmerica, a hyper-nationalist movement claiming to extoll the virtues of American life and the American capitalist system. Joined by several other right wing organizations, it appears that the goal of the project is to revamp the tarnished image of Heartland.

Heartland explains the new project as follows:

How US Senators’ #WebofDenial Helped Spawn and Sustain Climate Science Denial in the UK

Senator Whitehouse describing the Web of Denial in the US Senate

In the 1990s, personnel from the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) were flying across oceans to stoke climate science denial.

In 1995, in what is thought to be the first conference promoting climate science denial in Britain, the CEI’s then president Fred Smith joined another US guest from the Atlas Economic Research Foundation for a series of talks that undermined warnings about the impacts of fossil fuels on the climate.

Now more than 20 years on, Democratic Senators from across the pond have completed a blitz of speeches describing the fossil fuel funded “web of denial” – with organisations including the CEI featuring heavily in their forensic analysis.

This “web of denial” has held back action to cut greenhouse gas emissions while confusing the public on climate change. 

How An Extreme Form of Climate Science Denial Has Found a Home in Australia's Senate

Australians went off to vote in a general election last week, but five days later and the country still doesn’t have a result.

As things stand, there appears to be every chance that neither of the two main party groupings — Labor on the left and the coalition of Liberals and Nationals on the right — will win enough seats to form a government in their own right.

But one result in the country’s upper house has sparked a wave of discontent, reflection and rage — the election of the right wing anti-Muslim, anti-Halal, anti-vaccination firebrand Pauline Hanson.

Hanson, who leads her own One Nation party, has won election to Australia’s Senate and, as counting continues, she could bring more candidates with her.

But as well as pushing xenophobia and division, the Queensland politician will also take a most extreme brand of climate science denial with her into the Senate. 

Broken Records Define The Climate Crisis

We’re living in a time of records. More renewable energy came on stream in 2015 than ever — 147 gigawatts, equal to Africa’s entire generating capacity — and investment in the sector broke records worldwide. Costs for producing solar and wind power have hit record lows. Portugal obtained all its electricity from renewable sources for four straight days in May — the longest achieved by any country — and Germany was able to meet 90 per cent of its electricity needs with renewable power for a brief period. Clean energy employment and job growth now outpace the fossil fuel industry by a wide margin.

That’s just a portion of the good news. Oil prices have fallen so low that some more damaging activities are becoming unprofitable, a record number of coal companies are going bankrupt or filing for bankruptcy, and fewer coal mines are operating in the U.S.

Veteran Climate Science Denialist Bob Carter Dies of Heart Attack

Bob Carter has died.

To most members of the general public, the name of that Australian geologist and paleontologist will barely register a flicker of neurons in the temporal lobe.

But to the global community of professional and amateur climate science denialists, misinformers and opponents of climate policy, Carter was an influential giant.

Republican Donor Stands by Scandal-Rocked UK Climate Denial Charity He Helped to Fund

Republican donor David Herro is standing by Lord Lawson’s UK climate change science denying charity – which he helped to fund – amidst allegations that its peer review process is flawed.

In December 2015, Greenpeace revealed that one of the Global Warming Policy Foundation’s (GWPF) leading academic advisers Professor William Happer offered to write an academic paper casting doubt on climate change on behalf of a fictitious oil company. Happer suggested this paper be reviewed under the GWPF’s ‘peer review process’.

When asked whether these revelations have any impact on his decision to fund the GWPF, Herro responded stating: “No comment till proof is provided of an unethical behavior.”

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